It lasted, not for days or months, but for thirty-five years, with different phases, and under different forms, but almost without intermission. …One night when he was more than usually disquieted, he said, ‘My God, I willingly make to Thee the sacrifice of some hours’ sleep for the conversion of sinners.’ Immediately the infernal troupe disappeared, and all was silent.
Vianney’s brother-priests were at first little disposed to believe in the reality of these diabolical manifestations; they sought to account for them by natural and physiological causes. “If the Cure d’Ars lived like other men,” said they “if he took a proper quantity of sleep and nourishment his imagination would be calmed, his brain would no longer be peopled with spectres, and all this infernal phantasmagoria would vanish.”
One night, however, they assumed a more serious tone, the discussion became more animated, …more bitter and reproachful. It was agreed that all this infernal mystification had no other origin than delirium and hallucination, and the poor Cure was consequently treated as a visionary and an enthusiast.
To all this he answered not a word, but retired to his room, apparently insensible to everything but the joy of being persecuted. Soon afterwards his joking companions separated for the night, …
But behold! at midnight all the inmates of the house are awakened by a horrible fracas. The cure is shaken from the very foundation, the doors bang, the windows clatter, the walls totter, sinister cracks are heard, as if the whole building were just about to fall to the ground.
In a moment everyone was on his feet. They recollected that the Cure d’Ars had said, “You must not be surprised if you should hear a noise this night.” They rushed simultaneously into his room, where they found him in tranquil repose. “Get up,” cried they, “the house is falling to the ground.” “Oh, I know what it is,” replied he, smiling; “return to your rest, there is nothing to fear.” They were reassured, and the clamour ceased.
An hour later in the night a faint bell was heard. The Abbe Vianney rose up and went to the door, where he found a man who had travelled several leagues to confess to him. This, we are told, was no unusual occurrence; it often happened that after the most cruel nights the Cure found at his door in the morning pilgrims who had made long journeys in order to be confessed by him.
Indeed, when the persecution to which he was subjected was more than usually violent, he received it as a sign of some signal mercy, or some special consolation about to be granted to him. ~ St. John Vianney, catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com
This morning, done with the work week and all manner of hurt and attacks, I went determined to greet the first breath of the weekend and to sink my heart into the sweetness of petals, trees and winds. Glancing out of my window, I saw the orange~red sun begin its ascent from a band of grey rainclouds that sought to hold it back. I had never seen the sun rise so quickly. I hurried out, catching its the last seconds, before the thick clouds hid the vermillion disc from view.
I remained a long time in my wee garden, running my gaze over the pink whites of roses. The breezes I wanted barely stirred, the birds their morning song scarce and muted by the coming rains. But my heart was at peace. So deep was my relief to at last be away from my workplace and the cruelty of some people that I could forgive anything.
I carried this peace and quiet within to the rest of the day. I asked for nothing. The peace was enough for me.
Into this peace, came the Cure d’Ars, St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests.
Two weeks before, just before sunset Mass, I saw that it was the feast day of St. John Vianney. The Cure d’Ars had never had a special place in my heart. But for some reason, the moment I saw his name and his feast day, 4th August, I felt a quick pool of warmth settle over my heart. In an instant, I felt a sudden kinship with the Cure d’Ars.
Yet, in a flash, he was gone. In the two bitter weeks that followed where work woes took on a dark shadow, this saint never came back. I forgot about him, until today, a day begun in the pink of fresh sunrise and thanksgiving.
And he brought me understanding. He parted the mists slightly over my 40 day journey. He showed me the real architect of my pain. He gave me to understand some of the reasons for this new trial. He showed me how he had walked a far worse road, in a shadow far more feral than what I was facing.
Most searing of all, he told me he had been afraid. That he had tasted and suffered a fear so deep and great in every attack. But each time fear touched him, he had turned swiftly to God. Not once did he rely on himself. His fear never held him back from God.
His fear made him seek God over and over and over. He accepted every morsel of strength heaven gave him. When it finished, he simply returned for more.
It was then that I understood it was alright to be afraid. To be sick to the stomach in fear of what the bullies at work could do to me and were doing. To have a knife through my heart over the same darkness my little daughter was facing. To feel this way didn’t mean that I was weak and far from God. Fear was not weakness. Unless it took me away from God. Weakness was relying on myself to get through the 40 and anything else beyond it.
As I sealed this lesson into the walls of my heart, my spirit turned back to the other light the Cure d’Ars had tenderly brought me. Of the redemptive value of this suffering.
It was the price of a soul.